By Jamie Smith,

Members of the Métis Nation, government and business took a first step in Thunder Bay Friday toward building a positive relationship when it comes to development in this region, says the Métis Nation of Ontario’s president.

Gary Lipinski said a mining symposium Friday at the Thunder Bay Métis Community Centre was all about relationship building and having the Métis open their doors to mining companies and government.

“Really extending their hand and sending an invitation to setup good relationships with some of the proponents that are looking at doing business here,” Lipinski said.

With a lot of good potential mining development in the region, Lipinski said positive relationships are a must.

“We all want to be part of that. Métis people want the same thing as Ontarians and Canadians want. They want to be part of society part of the community as things continue to progress,” Lipinski said. “And know what’s going on and know how it might impact them and the larger community as well.”

Lipinksi said development in the region is a win-win for both Métis and the companies involved.

Premier Gold Aboriginal liaison Tammy Lehtinen said her company has been consulting with Métis through the Hard Rock project near Geraldton. While the company has been learning about Métis culture, Métis people have been learning about the mining industry.

That consultation has been a critical component in the development, she added.

“We want to be certain that we’re not infringing on any type of cultural aspects of their communities traditions,” Lehtinen said.

Lehtinen said Premier’s philosophy is to hire as many local people as possible on projects. The Hard Rock project has already begun that process and will continue to include more people as the project expands.

“As our project grows it will continue to ripple,” she said.

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